Luisa MAFFI holds a B.A. in linguistics from the University of Rome, Italy (1978), and a Ph.D. in linguistic and cognitive anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley, USA (1994). She is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher in cognitive psychology at Northwestern University, Illinois, USA. As a linguist, she carried out lexicographic fieldwork in Somalia, East Africa (1979-1985), contributing to the elaboration of a Somali- Italian dictionary and to the training of Somali linguists. As an anthropologist, she has worked on issues of language and culture, language and cognition, and ethnoscience (ethnomedicine, ethnobiology). Her doctoral research (1988-1993) was on the language of illness among the Tzeltal Maya of Chiapas, southern Mexico. Maffi's postdoctoral work has been devoted to developing a perspective on the relationships between language, knowledge, and the environment and on the links between biodiversity and linguistic and cultural diversity. In this connection, along with a group of colleagues she contributed to the creation of the NGO Terralingua: Partnerships for Linguistic and Biological Diversity in 1996. She organized the conference "Endangered Languages, Endangered Knowledge, Endangered Environments", held in Berkeley, California, October 25-27, 1996. A book and a video based on the conference are in preparation. Maffi has recently cowritten a chapter on linguistic diversity and language rights for the book "Human Values of Biodiversity", to be published by the United Nations Environment Programme. During 1997-2000 she will be doing research on ecological knowledge and reasoning among Mayan peoples of Guatemala and Quintana Roo, Mexico.
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